What should I be doing instead of this?
March 19th, 2012 By Emily Maxwell | Music | Posted In: Local Music, SXSW

SXSW 2012: Pinstripes Go 'Unofficial' at SXSW

Local Reggae/Ska/Soul band hits Austin for the fans SXSW brings, but not the fest itself

_dsc5832A pair of Pinstripes chill in the Texas sun (Photo: Emily Maxwell)

The 2012 SXSW festival has come to an end and it's left us tired, sore and broke. In retrospect it seems like a meager price for a full week of live music, free booze and hanging out in one of the country's coolest cities. But for many bands, it's just another week on the job. 

Among the thousands of artists that apply for SXSW every year, only a small percentage are officially a part of the festival. However, that doesn't stop bands from all over the world, like Cincinnati's The Pinstripes, from taking the stage or at least creating their own. Even if it's on their own dime and they aren't part of an official showcase.

The six-member Reggae/Ska/Soul band traveled across the country to perform on the streets of downtown Austin. And, from what band members Matt Kursmark and Leo Murcia say, it seems like they'd happily do it all over again.

"When we play shows and busk, and hustle the best we can, it's, like, hey, we're from Cincinnati. This is what we have to offer and what our city has to offer, and remember it.  Remember that you had a good time and you moved your butt. We're trying to shake butts, really. Trying to shake as many as possible," Murcia said.

The Pinstripes, which played a variety of festivals over the years, note that SXSW is unique in that it definitely carries its own, more "industry-focussed"  tune, compared to others.

"I was surprised to see that it's an industry party. It's not for the fans, but I'm also surprised at how many fans there were," Kursmark said.

"It's definitely nuts, 'anything goes' to a certain extent. There are a lot of people here who are trying to experience as much as they can, ourselves included, and watching people try to do that is an experience in itself," Murcia added.

However, the exclusivity of the festival didn't deter this group from having a good time or making an impression on crowds, particularly the police.

"The first time we were practicing our acoustic set on the street outside of Dallas in a neighborhood and we were playing outside. It was a nice day … then someone called the cops for a noise complaint. But the cops said, 'Hey you guys sound really good, but I have to shut you down,' " Kursmark said.

Then police officers later asked when and where they were playing at SXSW so they could come check out the show.

"The cops really seem to like The Pinstripes, but the people who like the cops don't seem to like The Pinstripes. There must be some algorithm for it. If you find out let us know. We'll try to avoid it at all costs," Murcia said.

So, what's the best part of the festival for these guys?

"Free. Free food, free beer — that definitely has its negative side of the coin, too," Murcia said.

And the worst?

"It seems a bit exclusive, it caters to certain bands and genres. It's all about Indie Rock, there's a lot of Punk or whatever, but it seems like there's a lot of  the general showcases seems to be just popular music," Kursmark said.

However, the band remains mindful of the opportunity SXSW presents. And they just want to keep doing what they know best — keep playing music.

"It's tough to not go see (artists like) Jimmy Cliff (at SXSW), someone who we really admire and respect. This guy is such a direct influence on what we do, but we can 't see him. It sucks It's a bummer, but at the same time the really cool part about it is you go out on the street, play a house show, people are so open to it, People are open to us — people want it. if we can provide that for them, then that's sweet. That's the best part of SXSW and the music," Murcia said.

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